Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday cautioned people against attempts to trigger communal tension in the country, arguing that the BJP can do anything to divert public attention from its government's failures.
Addressing a massive public rally at Hingoli in Maharashtra, Thackeray said: “I am not saying this, former governor Satyapal Malik, who was close to Narendra Modi, and Trinamul MP Mahua Moitra have said that the BJP can do anything to win the 2024 election. They have raised questions about the Pulwama incident in 2019 and have expressed fears that communal riots can be triggered on a massive scale after the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.”
Asking people to stay alert, Thackeray said he was a proud Hindu but Hindutva did not mean discrimination against Muslims. “I don’t need any certificates from the BJP. They say I have run away from Hindutva. Wrong. But I am not against Muslims. I am against traitors. Hang the deshdrohi. But the 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan doesn’t make you Hindu. Where are the jobs for Hindus?”
Amid loud cheers from the audience, he continued: “You (Modi) say sabka saath-sabka vikas. But in reality, it is sabko laat, apne doston ka vikas (kick everyone and favour friends). You ensure your friends get everything, in the country and abroad. Contracts, companies, resources… everything for your friends.”
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Thackeray took strong exception to Modi’s description of INDIA as “ghamandia”, and expressed outrage at the comparison with the Indian Mujahideen. Responding to the Opposition's decision to name its alliance INDIA, the Prime Minister had said even the militant group had India in its name.
Thackeray said: “Who landed on the moon, India or Indian Mujahideen, Mr Modi? It doesn’t behove a Prime Minister to speak this language."
"You have no principles, no ideology. You have stolen leaders from other parties; you have created a combine of traitors and thieves. You accuse others of corruption but embrace tainted people by washing them with your special powder.”
Calling out Modi’s hypocrisy, he said: “I read somewhere that Modi has asked BJP leaders to get rakhis tied by Muslim women. I thank him for this gesture. But will Bilkis Bano of Gujarat, who was tortured and raped, be one of the women your leaders go to? The pregnant woman who was abhorrently attacked and whose attackers you freed from jail? Will your leaders go to the two women of Manipur who were paraded naked, on rakhi day?”
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had also accused Modi of duplicity through a post on the social media platform X: “A Dalit youth was beaten to death in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh. The criminals didn’t spare his mother either. The Prime Minister, who shows the hypocrisy of building a temple of Sant Ravidas (a Dalit icon) in Sagar, doesn’t speak a word on the ceaseless attacks on Dalits and tribals.”
Kharge added: “The Madhya Pradesh chief minister tries to hide his sins by washing the feet of the oppressed in front of the camera but has turned the entire state into a laboratory for atrocities on Dalits. The rate of atrocities on Dalits in Madhya Pradesh is thrice the national average. Modiji, the people of the state will not be fooled by you this time. You will get the answer to the project of torturing the deprived sections of the society in a few months.”
Madhya Pradesh is going to polls later this year.
The sustained attack on Modi-Amit Shah, rather than the BJP, was reflected on Saturday too when Kharge addressed a public meeting at Chevella in Telangana. Asserting that the Congress had delivered a comprehensive and transformative change in India after Independence, Kharge wondered what kind of morality prompted Modi-Shah to ask what the Congress did in 53 years. “They used to say 70 years earlier but they have realised now that there were other governments as well in between,” he said.
Accusing Modi of making unusual noise about the small things he does, Kharge said: “We gave the Constitution and democracy. We united the country by integrating 562 princely states, built the industrial backbone of public sector units, the network of dams and other infrastructure, great educational and research institutions. Which big company did Modi build? Was Isro built by Modi? Distributing money to voters at election time is not our habit; we have delivered solid work.”
Accusing Modi-Shah of misleading the nation, Kharge said India was impoverished at the time of Independence and not even a "needle" was manufactured in the country. “We made this a modern and capable nation. Our obsession was not like Modi’s, only to scream and abuse the Congress. We delivered the Green Revolution, godowns are full of grain today because of that. The average life span was 32 and it is 72 now. We divided Pakistan, we ushered in economic liberalisation, we brought phones and computers, gave MGNREGA and the Food Security Act,” the Congress president said.